George Parks Hitchcock was an American actor, poet, playwright, teacher, labor activist, publisher, and painter. He is best known for creating Kayak, a poetry magazine that he published as a one-man operation from 1964 to 1984. Equally important, Hitchcock published writers under the "Kayak" imprint including the first two books by Charles Simic, second books by Philip Levine and Raymond Carver, translations by W.S. Merwin, and early books by Robert Bly and James Tate.
Hitchcock was born in Hood River, Oregon, graduating in 1935 from the University of Oregon, where he was a reporter on the school newspaper. After college, he worked as a journalist for several labor movement periodicals, including The Western Worker and The People’s Daily World, simultaneously developing an interest in poetry which was fostered by Kenneth Rexroth. He joined the United States Merchant Marine during World War II, and worked as a cook and a waiter in the South Pacific.
After the war, he became more active in the labor movement, working to organize dairy workers in California and teaching at the California Labor School. Later, he became active in the San Francisco theater scene, writing plays and acting with the Actor's Workshop and the Interplayers while working as a landscape gardener.
While performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1957, Hitchcock was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where in response to a question asking him his profession, he responded, "I am a gardener. I do underground work on plants". He refused to answer any further questions "on the grounds that this hearing is a big bore and waste of the public's money".
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